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A broad church

Written By: - Date published: 10:39 am, April 17th, 2011 - 36 comments
Categories: history, labour, Maori Issues - Tags:

TVNZ reports that Ratana elders are unhappy with Labour over its list MP rankings for the election:

Labour list insults Ratana Church

The Labour Party’s list is under fire again, this time from Maori.

A senior official within the influential Ratana Church is calling for its members to abandon Labour in response to the lowly ranking of it’s [sic] candidates.

Senior Ratana minister Kereama Pene has launched a stinging Facebook campaign against what he sees as Labour’s list insult. He said on the social networking site: “Every Ratana should show their total disgust and abandon Labour forever.” “I think that we have to wake up and we have to realise the situation we’re in with Labour. The Labour and Ratana alliance probably died long ago, but our faith kept us in there,” the minister told ONE News. …

It’s understood that some in the highest levels of the church are disappointed.

Ratana sanctioned Soraya Peke-Mason has contemplated resigning over her lowly 55th ranking on the Labour list. However, she has decided to stay but said Labour has to stop taking Ratana and it’s 60,000 followers for granted.

This is bad news for Labour of course, which has always stressed its long and effective relationship with the Ratana Church. Phil Goff should be putting relationships with the Church back on the front burner right now. Even though their influence in the Maori electorates is obviously declining, the Ratana Church are old friends, and Labour cannot afford to let their relationship wither.

If Church members follow Pene’s advice to abandon Labour, then it seems likely that Hone Harawira’s new party (or perhaps the Greens) would be the beneficiary. I certainly can’t see long term Ratana supporters flocking to National or the abundantly right wing Maori Party.

And if there is any silver lining in this cloud for Labour, perhaps it is this. In an odd way it reinforces the fact that Labour is a broad church. A party of the people, of ordinary people from all walks of life. The list has to reflect the interests of the economically disadvantaged, of the powerful but shadowy union lobbies (!), of the gaggle of gays, of the straight shootin’ West coasters, of the ivory tower academics and teachers, of the Ratana Church Maori and other Maori whatever their beliefs, of everyone left behind or disgusted by National’s pandering to the wealthy and inability to face the future. That’s why there is so much interest in, and very active criticism of Labour’s list. Because so many people, from so many diverse backgrounds, care.

I doubt that there will be similar interest in National’s list. That party represents the interests not of people, but of money. It’s a much simpler task.

36 comments on “A broad church”

  1. Monty 1

    if you think that Labour are able to appeal to a wider audience then you are are sadly delusional and mis-guided.  Labour at present are appealing only to their baseline supporters, they are disfunctional and leaderless.

    Damian O’Connor said the Labour Party was controlled by self-serving unionists and a gaggle of Gays.  If that is the frustrated word coming from the inside, then what do you think the public perception is going to be?  Labour’s current polling is a reflection of the limited representation.

    • toad 1.1

      Damien O’Connor is a homophobe and a perennial under-achiever for Labour.  He is part of the problem, Monty, not a part of the solution – not that you want to see a solution.

      As a Green, the prospects of going into Government with Goff and his crew are becoming extremely remote for me.

      Unless, of course, the disaffected Labour vote rally behind the Greens and whatever political vehicle Hone Harawira comes up with, rather than just stay at home as they have done in the past when they have been pissed off with Labour.

      And I wish David Parker would front up and challenge the bumbling Goff. Parker increasingly impresses me as a potential Leader of integrity and commitment to what Labour should represent, but for some reason doesn’t seem to have the ambition for his Party to be in Government come November, which I think he only among there caucus would have a chance of achieving.

      • PeteG 1.1.1

        Maybe Parker thinks he needs to win an electorate first before he has enough credibility to try for leadership. I don’t have a problem with party leader coming from the list, especially PM, they have enough to do without attending to electorate affairs.

  2. Afewknowthetruth 2

    The parlous state that NZ is now in is largely due to:
    1.Political parties that lost their way long ago and serve global corporate interests.
    2. Churches that lost their way long ago and are chasing Mammon.

    3. Mass media that were subverted to serving global corporate interests long ago.

    TVNZ, Ratana Church, Labour. One short item that lists examples of all three. What fun!

    Peak oil, unravelling of fiat currencies, economic collapse, religious deceit, social collapse, environmental collapse:  the game is almost over.


  3. Anne 3

    Is he doing a Damien O’Conner? He seems to have his facts a bit askew. As far as I understand there are two high profile candidates who belong to the Ratana Church – Louisa Wall and Tirikatene-Sullivan.

    Labour is a very broad based party now and affiliation to a church, a union or some other specialised group is no guarantee of an electable position. Contrary to the claims of some uninformed media commentators there are some very talented people coming through on the list, and that will become  apparent as time goes on.

    • Agreed Anne.  Louisa was selected for the ultra safe Manurewa seat and Tirikatene-Sullivan is number 45 on the list and should have an excellent choice of winning the Te Tai Tonga seat.

  4. PeteG 4

    How much representation should a minor church have in one political party?
    There are more Hindhus, Buddhists, Pentecostals, Baptists, Methodists, Catholics and Anglicans than Ratanas – how many should each of them be represented by?
    Of about 2.2m religious people there are about 52,000, or about 2% Ratanas.

  5. Bill 5

    The reality is that the relationship with Ratana is contrived these days. Labour don’t reflect the concerns of the Ratana congregation any more than they do the concerns of their wider erstwhile ‘natural’ constituency.
    Insofar as the Ratana congregation offer a reasonable cross section of what would formally have been taken as the ‘natural’ Labour constituency, why should Ratana remain within the Labour fold when the wider Labour constituency has been abandoning the party?
    Labour cannot go on exploiting voter expectations that are based on a Labour Party of yesteryear. Or taking taking the votes that flow from those expectations for granted.
    Labour have a choice. Fuck up and get back to acting from their (since the 80’s) ostracised moral center, or Ph Goff. (Unfortunately, they seem to have chosen the latter)

  6. Craig Glen Eden 6

    So Bill what are the concerns of the Ratana Congregation? Please do tell because unless you can the rest of your post is total bullshit.

    • Adele 6.1

      Teenaa koe, Craig

      There is nothing wrong with Bill’s critique, on the contrary, he obviously understands that the Ratana congregation is simply a maaori-cosm of a larger un-ease directed at the Labour Party. 

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    I assume that Soraya Peke-Masonis in a safe Labour seat? If so, then this is just another matter of an ego-maniacal sense of self-entitlement.

  8. Tigger 8

    When did a Facebook post become news? This is just embarrassing journalism.

    • Tigger: News is where something of interest happens. If it happens on Facebook then poor journalism would be ignoring it because it happened on Facebook.

  9. If Ratana – or any religion or group – want a high place on any party list they must earn it by the actions, activism and loyalty of members who are also committed to the party concerned. Any group expecting something of great value just because of who they are, without putting in the long hours SHOULD expect to be disappointed…..not rewarded.   

    I have no idea whether Ratana meets this standard or not. But any party handing out list placings to “place holders” would be cutting their own throat in the long run. The amount of potential new dead wood that can be tolerated is particularly limited if a party is already over-supplied with it.  

  10. This difficulty that poor, poor Labour is having *sniff* could easily be avoided, you know.

    Let your members rank your list. Then you could turn to Ratana, oir anyone else, and say “if you don’t like it, here’s a membership form. If you’re already a member, then what’s your problem with democracy, buddy?”

    Problem solved.

    But it’s not going to happen, is it? Not in Labour or in any party other than the Greens (who then pervert the whole thing with quotas, but kudos for getting further than anyone else I guess).

    Vested interests rule, okay.

    • toad 10.1

      That’s the Green approach, Rex.  And it gets results.

      After getting a bollocking from the Party membership over their vote last year on the first Canterbury recovery Bill, I suspect that if the Green MPs had voted for the CERA Bill, several of their sitting MPs would have been demoted to unelectable positions by the Green membership in the list ranking process.

      But the Labour MPs could still vote for it, despite their speeches opposing it, because there is little internal democracy in that Party and their membership cannot hold their MPs to account.

      • Just get rid of your quotas then, toad, and I might fly back to vote for you 😀

      • mickysavage 10.1.2

        Oh Toad

        Labour has four senior MPs down in Christchurch.  Each day they deal with the basic problems like people not having water, or sewerage, or somewhere to live or they are living in a house that is crumbling around them.

        The MPs have been really staunch and have been working way beyond the call of duty.

        Christchurch residents do not want to know about the constitutional issues.  They just want their city rebuilt.

        If I was to vote on CERRA then I would drive a stake through its heart before voting against it but the Christchurch MPs perhaps through sleep deprivation or constipation or not having had a shower in a while see things differently.  I do not live in Christchurch so their view should be given a considerable amount of weight.

        Labour could have voted against the Bill and it would have still have been passed and Labour would have been bashed around the head with its “lack of sympathy”.  Perhaps we can reserve judgment until when Labour regains power and then see what they do to CERRA’s clearly excessive powers.

    • Lindsey 10.2

      Labour members do rank the list. Every person on the Moderating Committe is a dedicated Labour member representing, or having been elected by a section of the Party to do the best for the whole Party in the ranking of the list. It is fine for boutique parties to send the list out to the wider membership, but in a broader based party like Labour, a Moderating Committee is a good way to have the wider picture. When I was 53 on Labour’s list in 1999, I wasn’t chucking my toys out of the cot and pretending it was an insult to the groups I campaigned within. If they do not have the political discipline, they are more harm than good.

      • Care to share how many paid-up members in Labour, nationwide, Lindsey? Last figure I heard was round 40,000. Are you seriously suggesting that, in this day and age of advanced communications, collecting the votes of 40,000 people is an impossible task?

        And what you see as – heaven help us – “discipline” (seems there was plenty of that when Helen ran things), others may see as unthinking compliance with the will of an elite.

        But by all means continue to run a “closed shop”. It gives those “boutique” parties a strong point of difference with which to recruit new members who like the idea that they’ll be more than just a cog in the machine. Which may be why their memberships are rising while Labo(u)r parties’ the world over are falling.

        As Toad points out, it’s not just about a once-every-three-years exercise – Green MPs actually had to stop and think about what members might do to them if they voted for the CERA. It’s not as good as having to stop and think what an electorate might do, but it’s the next best thing.

  11. beelezubbles 11

    Hang on a minute, I thought you lot got outraged when a church supports a political party? You didn’t like the Brethren, are the Ratanas any less crazy?

    • r0b 11.1

      Nah, we get outraged when a church conspires with a political party to break electoral law.

      So do the public, which is why Don Brash had to resign in disgrace.

      Let me know when Ratana does anything half so corrupt and stupid.

      • beelezubbles 11.1.1

        Remind me exactly which part of electoral law they broke, rob? The Brethren’s leaflet drop was perfectly legal. Why do you think Labour passed a botched law to try and make it illegal in future? But since you’re so strict on electoral law I presume you ditched Labour when they broke it to the tune of $800,000?

        • Draco T Bastard

          Remind me exactly which part of electoral law they broke, rob?

          The part where it says that political parties aren’t allowed to coordinate their electioneering with third parties which the emails in The Hollow Men proved that National had been doing.

          • beelezubbles

            And which bit in the Electoral act current at the time was that? Quote please…

            • mickysavage

              Um the bit that said that National should not spend any more than $1.5million or so.  The law did not say that National could go to a cult religious group and get them to spend a further $1m but it was clearly what was intended and the EFA was enacted as a result.  If you are going to have a money limit then you have to apply it to fringe third parties.

              • beelezubbles

                Still not a quote from the law micky. Why can none of you find this rule that you are so sure is in there? The limit is for spending in favour of  a particular party, by name. If a third party promotes your party, it comes off your spending total. If it is advertising about election *issues*, without telling you who to vote for, it does not count. This was the law. National did nothing illegal, it is dishonest to keep pretending they broke these imaginary clauses that didn’t exist.

                • The use of EB to avoid the spending cap was clearly outside the intent of the law but arguably not outside the letter of the law.  That is why a law change was required.

                  • beelezubbles

                    The intent of the law was clearly to let third parties say what they want about *issues* as long as they don’t promote a particular party. The EB said what they thought about the issues, they didn’t promote National. The law wasn’t broken in intent or in letter. The EFA was not clarifiying the intent of the law, it was changing it. For the worse, that’s why it got shouted down in protest. The only one who broke the intent and letter of the law was Labour’s 800k overspend. But that doesn’t seem to bother you for some reason.

                    • r0b

                      Very gallant of you to fight this rearguard action against the tide of history bb.  But the public passed judgement on the case. That’s why was Don Brash forced to resign in disgrace. And arguably it’s why he lost the 2005 election.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      The only one who broke the intent and letter of the law was Labour’s 800k overspend.

                      I’ve had this discussion with burt and you’re as wrong as he is.
                      NZ operates under Common Law which essentially means how the law has been interpreted previously. The AG changed the interpretation. He got away with doing so because the law hadn’t been up before a court, despite being in place for more than 10 years, and so he managed to set precedent. That change in interpretation after so long is what caused the need for the retrospective legislation because without that our government for the previous decade or more would have been illegal as every single party had used that law under the previous understanding and just imagine what that would have meant in terms of constitutional crisis. Every single budget and every single law passed for over a decade struck out.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    I always thought that what National did was also outside the letter of the law. It was quite specific in that political parties were not allowed to coordinate their electioneering with third parties and National did coordinate with the EB (and a number of other parties) as shown by the emails in The Hollow Men.

                    An unregistered promoter may not enter into an agreement, or enter into an arrangement or understanding, with any other person for the purpose of circumventing the maximum amount prescribed in section 204B(1)(d).

                    Being the relevant piece of the law. I believe the coordination that National engaged in with the EB skirted a few other portions of the law as well.

  12. dave 12

    Parker should have rolled Goff in 2009. Phil Goff doesn’t run a Goffice now, he runs a Goffin.

  13. seeker 13


    National did not pay the GST on their broadcasting allocation in the 2005 election, approx.$400.000 I believe, but it was spun under the carpet as per usual. This was really breaking the law.


  14. Swampy 14

    Why the Ratana church has slavishly stuck with Labour I will never understand, the Labour Party of today is not that of the 1930s with which their founder did the deal.

    The rankings would appear to be an accurate reflection of about where the church should be and a broad hint to its leaders about the relevance of them to the party (and vice versa). Maybe they will take the hint.

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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Government support for communities impacted by flooding
      Minister of Civil Defence Hon Peeni Henare announced today that the Government will contribute $100,000 to the Southland regional Mayoral Relief Fund, to support communities impacted by the recent flooding in Southland.  Mr Henare says this week’s flooding has caused significant disruption to communities in the lower South Island.  ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New grants for seismic strengthening of heritage buildings
    Heritage buildings throughout New Zealand will benefit from the $1.1 million in Heritage EQUIP funding grants announced today. “These grants for seismic strengthening projects help private building owners get the advice they need to start building work or to get the work completed,” Grant Robertson says. “Timaru’s Grosvenor Hotel has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Next level results for game development industry
    A new survey has found New Zealand’s game development sector has grown beyond expectations and is on track to becoming a billion dollar industry in 2025, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford says. “New Zealand’s interactive media sector grew by 42 per cent in last financial year to $203.4 million, according ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago